Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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nodh.klmKaren L. Myers photoEach year we hear grumblings at the hound shows questioning whether those hunts that consistently win all the ribbons are being sportsmanlike by continuing to show their hounds in all the classes. Truth be told, I have been guilty of those grumblings, but I was flat out wrong.

On the flip side, I have even heard some winning Masters express hesitation about entering their hounds in certain shows because they feel funny about dominating the ring. They shouldn’t. They are doing us a service.

If the premier breeders of foxhounds don’t persist in putting their best hounds in the ring for all to see, how will we acquire the visual standard—that mental picture—to guide us in our own breeding programs?

True, more hunts would win ribbons, and members and Masters might feel better, but what would happen to the foxhound as a breed when lesser examples pose with their trophies? We need a North Star—a constant standard—toward which to strive if we want to breed the best foxhounds we can.

The better question is why do certain hunts consistently breed the winning hounds.

It’s really not a matter of luck or privilege; it’s just hard work. These breeders study pedigrees night after night to find bloodlines that will nick with their hounds. They talk to other Masters and top breeders to find mates that will strengthen faults they recognize in their own hounds. They think nothing of jumping into the truck on a snowy morning with a female in season to drive eight or fifteen hours to the stallion hound they have chosen because her window of breedability has come. They visit other kennels and they stand at ringside comparing what they see to what they have at home. They watch the championship classes and retain mental images of the finalists as standards toward which to strive.

Someone once said, If you don’t know where you are going, you’re likely to wind up someplace else. Without a mental picture of the ideal foxhound in one’s head, how can any breeder produce a foxhound that will please the eye and structurally stand up to its work in the field?

If we love foxhounds, let’s praise those Masters and huntsmen who are sufficiently committed to breed the benchmarks of quality toward which all hunts should aspire for their own kennels. Let’s thank them for their hard work and congratulate them for their success in maintaining standards for us all.

Posted June 10, 2014

 

Comments   

+1 # Liz Callar 2014-06-10 09:16
Thanks for your article. I enjoyed both Virginia and Bryn Mawr Hound Shows. Reminds me of looking at the horse/pony breeding classes at Devon and Upperville.

I would hate to leave my horse at home if I think it could stand with the Best. But, I enjoy competition.
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+3 # Cheryl Microutsicos 2014-06-10 09:51
Our pack is small, but our MFH/Huntsman strives to learn from the best and breed the best hounds we can. Competitions should not be about "everyone winning" or "fair". They should be about challenging yourself to be the best you can be and constantly working to improve.
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+1 # Nancy Mitchell 2014-06-10 12:13
I am so enjoying learning the thoughts of those who take the time to go to these shows, whether or not they are winning. I think this is great fun. Learning what others look for can only help keep great hunting hounds healthy. Winning or even placing is not the goal for me, but the education, and the how and why.
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+3 # Joseph Murtagh 2014-06-10 15:02
For some of us it has taken a lot of time and effort to create a top quality hound but if we didn't see the quality in others hounds we wouldn't have had the choice of hounds to breed to of our type for our specific country etc.. Always remember at any given show it is only one mans opinion on any given day, so be certain of your choice of TYPE!!.
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+2 # Leslie Shepherd 2014-06-10 20:28
Excellent article kind sir. The conversation makes me think of the retriever trials where I live in So. Ga./ No. Fla. Many times in the years of these trials, I see the same folks winning with their dogs, different dogs they've trained over the years. They have good dogs, and it shows. Sets the bar high, a good thing.
I like your comment "If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up someplace else." These winners, albeit foxhound or labrador, know where they're going and are rewarded. I am reminded of the saying, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." They're not just sitting there!
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+3 # Joan Barrett 2014-06-11 07:34
As an irregular participant and a regular attendee at hound shows, I appreciate those packs that go every year and set the bar. Warrington is a small pack, and when we have a great litter and a tremendous amount of time to prep the hounds, we happily show! The packs that go every year demonstrate their commitment not only to a solid breeding program but a dedication to working with young hounds every year. My hats off to them.
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# Tom Pardoe 2014-06-19 10:34
For me at least, the value of shows like Virginia is not so much the trophys and ribbons that might be garnered although when a Goshen Hound occasionally does, we do swell with pride. The real value is to see what others are breeding and to talk to those Masters and huntsmen about their hounds. We try to go one step further before making that important breeding decision and actually visit the prospective stallion's hunt to see just how well that pack performs. So far, that process has worked pretty well.
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# Elizabeth H. Sutton 2014-06-19 15:13
Our Farmington hunt participated this year at Morven park, and to be there was a source of pride in and of itself, having the opportunity to see other hounds and talk to people who are involved is indeed inspiring and just plain fun. It is a great thing for all of us- as one of my friends once noted, "how can you know what 'good' is until you have the chance to see the best for yourself!"
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# Carole Schaub 2014-06-20 10:49
First is to breed a hound that can hunt the best in your country. That's what we should strive to do. To Hunt well, a hound should be correct and if it looks pleasing so much the better. All shows give the breeders an opportunity to judge whether we are also breeding to the standard. And as Joe mentioned above it's an opinion on a certain day. Just have fun at the shows and tally ho.
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